Young Designers put sustainability at heart of gardens

Five designers at the beginning of their careers were in the running for the award

The Young Designers, from left, James Smith, Emilie Bausager, Freddie Strickland, Maximillian Parker-Smith and Ellie Edkins

The coveted RHS Young Designer of the Year 2021 award went to Freddie Strickland for his sub-tropical themed garden On Tropic.

His garden features planting typically found in Devon and Cornwall but reimagined in a suburban home in the north west of England.

He imagined an exotic English garden, where traditional plants which currently thrive in northern English conditions have been replaced with a palette more adaptable to the unpredictability of our rapidly warming climate.

Young Designer of the Year 2021, Freddie Strickland
Canal and River Trust Garden The Fashion Footprint garden

Freddie said: “It’s impossible to ignore our impact on the planet. A focus on sustainability in garden design is becoming a priority within the industry.

“Plants are already becoming prioritised by their resilience to the ever-unpredictable climate, in order to find 'the right plant for the right place' we may need to look a little closer at what’s growing best abroad in warmer climes in the years to come. Our climate is changing, and with it our plants.”

Freddie's garden was also awarded an RHS Gold medal and scooped the Best Construction award in the Young Designer's category.  
The desire to promote sustainable garden design also influenced Maximillian Parker-Smith’s The Earth Garden which was awarded a Silver Gilt. Through his modest, minimalist design, he hopes to encourage people to simplify their outdoor living spaces, put plants at the centre and allow nature to thrive.
The Earth Garden The Earth Garden

“Even in our environment-conscious industry, there is always more we can do and I’m keen to demonstrate how gardens can be designed so there is an equal balance of usable space for people and nature,” Maximillian said. “I am also using this opportunity to promote the use of sustainable materials that have the future of our environment at heart when creating gardens.”
For the first time, the competition’s reputation as a platform for rising stars in horticulture has attracted an international designer in Emilie Bausager from Denmark. She hopes to inspire visitors to adopt more enivronmental ways to travel by transforming an imagined driveway into a green oasis for all the family with her Shooting Star Children’s Hospices Rehearse Garden, awarded a Silver medal.

Emilie Bausager’s Shooting Star Children’s Hospices Rehearse Garden

After the show the garden will be rebuilt at the Shooting Star Children’s Hospice in Hampton for children and their families to enjoy.
Whilst sustainability isn’t at the forefront of all the finalists gardens, it has very much influenced construction choices; from where and which materials and plants are sourced, to ensuring the gardens have a life beyond the show.
Finalists James Smith and Ellie Edkins have been inspired to create gardens in response to the growing number of people within the UK suffering with mental health issues as a result of the pandemic. 

Dreamscape Garden
The desire to create a positive, dreamlike environment in which to escape from reality influenced the design of The Dreamscape Garden by Ellie whose garden allows for uninhibited escapism, a place to dream, meditate and reflect. She was awarded a Bronze medal for her garden.
The youngest finalist, James chose to address the stigma attached to men suffering with their mental health and designed a space in which to open up this conversation.  It’s Ok Not To Be Ok is a secluded garden with twisted paths, representing barriers the visitor can overcome by walking through. It leads to a bench which overlooks a water feature, offering a place to talk.

James was awarded a Silver medal for his design.

It's Ok Not To Be Ok garden at RHS Tatton Park
For the second year finalists were mentored by award-winning designers Mark Gregory and Catherine MacDonald from Landform Consultants.

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